words // Zack Schlemmer
images // Nick DePaula
Just like one of our last Jersey Spotlights, the player featured is no longer in the NBA at the time of this writing. Much like Delonte's departure from the league due to issues with his bipolar disorder, Darko's is also a bit tragic after leaving the Boston Celtics to return to his native Serbia due to his mother having a severe illness.
After nine years in the NBA, Darko will ultimately and unfortunately be remembered for one thing: one of the all-time biggest draft busts. After being selected as the #2 pick in 2003 by the Detroit Pistons, ahead of players like Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh...hell, even Zaza Pachulia at the #42 pick has had a better career than him...it's easy to see why.
People will joke about Joe Dumars taking Darko at the #2 spot forever, but what a lot of people overlook is that the Pistons and Darko had an NBA championship before Wade, Bosh and LeBron. If the Pistons had selected Carmelo (still looking for his first chip) instead of Darko, would that Pistons team in 2004 - one of the most solid teams in recent years - have won? It's easy to imagine a superstar player like DWade or Melo disrupting the flow of what the Pistons had with that squad in '04. The point is, Darko has as many or more rings than everybody except Wade (whose Miami Heat probably would have been beaten by that same Pistons team in the 2006 Eastern Conference Finals without the help of the refs) among those stars of the 2003 draft. But then again, so does Adam Morrison...
Darko's career averages of 6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game definitely won't get him remembered as a great center, but Darko will always be a man NBA nerds hold dear to their hearts. The bleach-blonde hair, the obscene hate-filled interview after a game, that time he ripped his jersey to shreds on the way to the bench...these are all things that have given him a cult-like status among the game's fans.
That's why after joining the Celtics and wearing #99, I had to have his jersey. Never being a huge Celtics fan, Darko gave me the perfect excuse to add the classic Celtics-green to my collection. And as you can see, it's a beauty. The Boston Celtics adidas REV30 jersey features the classic Celtics uniform style, left mostly unchanged since...almost forever. With strategically placed mesh paneling, classic cut and clover logo above the player's name, the REV30 Boston Celtics uniform is, as always, one of the best in the NBA.